51 Scopus citations


Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are expanded in apicomplexan parasites, especially in Toxoplasma gondii where 14 separate genes encoding these enzymes are found. Although previous studies have shown that several CDPKs play a role in controlling invasion, egress, and cell division in T. gondii, the roles of most of these genes are unexplored. Here we developed a more efficient method for gene disruption using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPRassociated protein 9) that was modified to completely delete large, multiexonic genes from the genome and to allow serial replacement by recycling of the selectable marker using Cre-loxP. Using this system, we generated a total of 24 mutants in type 1 and 2 genetic backgrounds to ascertain the functions of noncanonical CDPKs. Remarkably, although we were able to confirm the essentiality of CDPK1 and CDPK7, the majority of CDPKs had no discernible phenotype for growth in vitro or infection in the mouse model. The exception to this was CDPK6, loss of which leads to reduced plaquing, fitness defect in a competition assay, and reduced tissue cyst formation in chronically infected mice. Our findings highlight the utility of CRISPR/Cas9 for rapid serial gene deletion and also suggest that additional models are needed to reveal the functions of many genes in T. gondii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1273
Number of pages12
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


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